Obama Takes Cantor to the Woodshed

When I asked you how the president should respond to the McConnell plan, I said “my inclination would be to take this as a sign the Republicans are on the ropes, and begin to squeeze a bit harder for a better deal.” Looks like the president is trying to do just that:

Cantor to the Woodshed, by Joe Klein: David Rogers … has word that the President of the United States monstered down on Representative Eric Cantor in Wednesday’s deficit ceiling squabble. This is so refreshing on so many levels. Cantor has been using this crisis to undermine his leader John Boehner, by playing the Tea Party/Grover Norquist recalcitrance card. The boy badly needed someone to get up in his face and Barack Obama, of all people, apparently did, telling Cantor, in no uncertain terms, that he’d veto any short term deficit ceiling fix or, indeed, any plan that did not include revenue increases. Then Obama walked out, or the meeting ended, depending on whom you talk to.

So what we have now is the Republican party in, yes, disarray–a word used to describe Democrats almost exclusively, back in the day before the crazies took over the GOP store. …

Here’s a bit more from the article he links to:

…McConnell bluntly warned his party it could be setting itself up for a fall at the polls next year. … In his radio interview, McConnell was unsparing of the risks to the GOP if Obama “maybe with some merit” sets out to convince voters that Social Security checks are being held up because of the failure to act. “You know it’s an argument he has a good chance of winning. … That is very bad positioning going into an election.” …

Democrats … portrayed the aggressive House Republican leader as badgering Obama through the meeting until the president dressed him down. “He lit up Eric Cantor like he’s never been lit up,” said one Democrat who described Obama as telling the Republican leader that he would veto any short term bill that Cantor sends him.

Through much of this, McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remained silent, and it’s clear the two men are moving toward some variation of McConnell’s draft, sweetened perhaps with Democratic options…

Okay, so he finally seems willing to fight (we hope). Now the trick is to get him to continue, and to get him to fight for the right things. [I should clarify: For Obama, a win seems to involve significant cuts and tax increases when the economy is struggling to get back on its feet. To me, that’s not fighting for the right thing, that’s fighting to make the economy worse. A win would be a plan for debt reduction that is set in place now, but doesn’t become effective until the unmployment rate improves. A home run would involve adding more stimulus to the package in the short-run, but it’s hard to see that happening.]

About Mark Thoma 243 Articles

Affiliation: University of Oregon

Mark Thoma is a member of the Economics Department at the University of Oregon. He joined the UO faculty in 1987 and served as head of the Economics Department for five years. His research examines the effects that changes in monetary policy have on inflation, output, unemployment, interest rates and other macroeconomic variables with a focus on asymmetries in the response of these variables to policy changes, and on changes in the relationship between policy and the economy over time. He has also conducted research in other areas such as the relationship between the political party in power, and macroeconomic outcomes and using macroeconomic tools to predict transportation flows. He received his doctorate from Washington State University.

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